Ex-Peace Now leader condemns Beresheet project

Former Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer says attempted moon-landing has no scientific purpose, all about 'ego.'

Gary Willig ,

Beresheet's view from far side of the moon
Beresheet's view from far side of the moon

Former Peace Now Secretary General Yariv Oppenheimer came under fire for criticizing the attempt to land the Israeli spacecraft Beresheet on the moon.

“Israel’s obsession with the occupation of territories reaches the moon. There was no scientific contribution to sending the spacecraft to the Moon, just throwing more money to inflate the national ego. It’s not for nothing that most of the world’s countries have given up on this gimmick. We tried, we enjoyed ourselves, now let’s invest in science teachers, in education and in academia,” Oppenheimer wrote on Twitter Sunday.

The Jewish Press, an American Jewish website and newspaper, took Oppenheimer to task for his dismissal of an event Israelis and Jews around the world looked at with pride.

Calling Oppenheimer the "proverbial kid who got beat up after school every day," the Press asked how he could say of a nation that watched the "exciting attempt of a small team of homegrown scientists to do something only seven countries had attempted and only three have done" and conclude that Israelis were just inflating their ego.

The Press called Oppenheimer "preachy" and accused him of attempting to make Jews refugees in their own country before noting where he was wrong in his analysis of Beresheet.

Beresheet, which was launched from Cape Canaveral in Florida in February, was the first privately-funded spacecraft to orbit the moon as well as the smallest spacecraft to achieve the feat. The craft was also outfitted with equipment to monitor the moon's magnetic field, which would have allowed scientists to learn more about how the moon was formed.

A malfunction caused Beresheet's main engine to fail shortly before landing on Thursday evening. Without its engine the craft could not slow its descent to the lunar surface in time and crashed.

Despite the setback, Prime Minister Netanyahu and the creators of the spacecraft vowed to try again.

Morris Kahn, the president of SpaceIL, the private organization which produced the craft, announced that the organization would begin work on Beresheet 2 with the goal of reaching the moon in one piece and completing the first model's mission.